1980s Classic: Airplane!
Airplane 1980 Movie: Remembered as the 4th highest-grossing movie in 1980, Airplane! is a slapstick comedy classic film starring Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Not only was it a successful movie in the 80s, but it was also the highest-grossing comedy film in history. It was eventually unseated by Ghostbusters.
Breaking Down the Airplane! Plot
After a failed flight mission in a war, former fighter pilot Ted Stryker returns home with a deep fear of flying and extensive trauma. However, he still has not gotten over the love of his life from before the war, Elaine Dickinson, and he vows to get her back. There’s just one catch – she’s a flight attendant now!
Battling through his fear of flying, he boards a flight to Chicago that she’s servicing to try and win her back. Unfortunately, Elaine turns down Ted’s advances, but this is only the start of his problems. Once the flight reaches cruising altitude, things begin to go incredibly awry. Many of the passengers and flight crew fall ill after eating the seafood meal on the plane, including the pilot.
Ted, who didn’t have fish on the flight seems to be one of the only people who isn’t ill. As he watches people around him get sicker and sicker, the flight crew get taken out by the food-borne illness and are unable to man the plane any longer. Elaine is instructed by the supervisor of the Chicago control tower to activate autopilot, which is a large blow-up doll named “Otto.” Otto is able to fly the plane but won’t be able to land it when necessary.
More Airplane 1980 Movie Facts:
Desperate to find someone to land the plane, Elaine nominated Ted to do it because of his experience as a fighter pilot. Ted, however, is paralyzed with fear about being in the cockpit again, and it is tough to discern whether he will be successful. The clock is quickly running out as people begin to get sicker, and Ted eventually lands the plane successfully. His heroism and bravery win back his true love, giving a happy ending to audiences.
Airplane! is a Classic
If you haven’t watched Airplane!, it’s not too late. Its comedic script gripped the world for years after its release, and many quotes from the movie are still widely used today. When Dr. Rumack asks if he can fly the plane, Ted responds, “surely you can’t be serious,” to which Rumack says, “I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.” If you’ve heard the quote and didn’t know where it was from, now you have your answer! This is just one of the many one-liners that are still tossed around.
5 Fun Facts About Airplane!
- Airplane! is a remake of a movie called “Zero Hour!” that was made in 1957. Many of the lines and humor used in Airplane! were taken directly from Zero Hour!
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played Roger Murdock in the movie, but in real life is the highest-scoring basketball player of all time.
- The three directors from Airplane! all make cameos in the movie.
- Leslie Nielsen was a jokester on set and used to bring a whoopie cushion to set the comedic tone in line readings.
- Air Mexico is the only airline that has used Airplane! as an in-flight film.
Airplane Movie Cast
- Robert Hays – Ted Striker
- Julie Hagerty – Elaine Dickinson
- Leslie Nielsen – Dr. Rumack
- Peter Graves – Capt. Clarence Oveur
- Lloyd Bridges – Steve McCroskey
- Robert Stack – Capt. Rex Kramer
- Lorna Patterson – Randy
- Stephen Stucker – Air Traffic Controller Johnny Henshaw-Jacobs
- Frank Ashmore – Victor Basta
- Jonathan Banks – Gunderson
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Roger Murdock
- Craig Berenson – Paul Carey
- Barbara Billingsley – Jive Lady
- Lee Bryant – Mrs. Hammen
- Nicholas Pryor – Jim Hammen
- Joyce Bulifant – Mrs. Davis
- Maureen McGovern – Nun
- Kenneth Tobey – Air Controller Neubauer
- Marcy Goldman – Mrs. Geline
- Barbara Stuart – Mrs. Kramer
- Ross Harris – Joey Hammen
- Norman Alexander Gibbs – First Jive Dude
- Al White – Second Jive Dude
- David Hollander – Young Boy with Coffee
- Michelle Stacy – Young Girl with Coffee
- David Leisure – First Krishna
- Jason Wingreen – Dr. Brody
- Jill Whelan – Lisa Davis
- Ethel Merman – Lieutenant Hurwitz
- Lee Terri – Mrs. Linda Oveur
- Jimmie Walker – Windshield Wiper Man
- James Hong – Japanese General
- Howard Jarvis – Man in Taxi
- Michael Laurence – Newscaster
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